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News :: Human Rights : International : Labor : Politics
Ecuador Civil Unrest Grows Amid Public Protests
08 Apr 2005
The daily drama lived in Ecuador is absent from the news media as civil disobedience erupted this week in this country’s main cities against President General Lucio Gutierrez.

Ecuador is living moments of some its greatest historical political tension as opposing political factions unite to regain power in Congress and the Supreme Court.
Gen. Gutierrez’s presidency has been riddled with internal controversy since he was elected in 2002. Two years before Gen. Gutierrez had befriended the indigenous movement and provided military support in a coup against President Jamil Mahuad, ousted in 2000 after an economic fallout that forced banks to close down and left many without savings.

After elected president, Gen Gutierrez friendship with the indigenous movement lasted only about six months, when the official indigenous political party, Pachakutik, broke its alliance with the administration accusing it of planning to implement neoliberal policies. Since then Gen. Gutierrez has tried to repeatedly undermine the movement by closing down offices, such as Ecuarunari, and splitting up the movement by appointing members close to the presidency, such as Antonio Vargas, to “opposition indigenous groups”. CONFENIAE, the Confederation of the Nationalities Indigenous to the Amazon in Ecuador, successfully boycotted this attempt and elected a member close to their ideals instead.

In the Amazon, indigenous groups have been battling their own war against oil companies, such as Texaco and Arco, for polluting the environment and ancestral lands. On November 4, 2003, the president of the Amazon Defense Front and environmental activist, Angel Shingre, was shot dead in the city of Coca, Orellana province.

A similar assassination attempt against Leonidas Iza, president of Ecuador’s largest indigenous organization CONAIE, was thwarted by his family on February 1, 2004.

These and other human rights violations prompted a visit from an international delegation of lawyers and human rights defenders to investigate allegations of threats and personal attacks against journalists, union workers, political leaders, and members of the opposition. The International Mission for the Defense of Human Rights arrived in Quito, Ecuador, on Monday, April 4.

Civil unrest finally erupted earlier this week in Ecuador’s urban areas when the Supreme Court President, Guillermo Castro, revoked orders of arrest for corruption against three major politicians living in exile in Central America.

The Supreme Court has been under siege since members of Congress supporting President Lucio Gutierrez fired 27 of the 31 Supreme Court judges in December.

One of the pardoned members, Abdala Bucaram, was forced to leave the country in 1997 under allegations of corruption. He was accused of lifting $88 million from the government during short-lived six-month presidency.

Clashes with the police yesterday left 110 people injured as people struggled to enter the Supreme Court premises, demanding the immediate removal of Guillermo Castro. According to the Red Cross, about 30 of those injured were children.

Mayors and local officials in Ecuador’s major cities as well as CONAIE have called concurrent national mobilizations against President Gen. Gutierrez and his immediate resignation.

In other news, US Ambassador in Ecuador, Kristie Kenney, spoke two weeks ago at a university in Guayaquil congratulating the country for all its successes in 2004. She reminded the audience of victories over negotiations in favor of the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA) and a closer relationships between the US and Ecuadorian governments.

In November 1999, Ecuador leased its Manta air base to the United States for 10 years, to be used by U.S. aircraft participating in Plan Colombia. The Manta base is the largest of its kind in South America with as many as 475 US military personnel stationed there.

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Re: Ecuador Civil Unrest Grows Amid Public Protests
10 Apr 2005
Viva la revolution! Long live Simon Bolivar!
Re: Ecuador Civil Unrest Grows Amid Public Protests
10 Apr 2005
My post was removed for alleged "racism" and "classism". I'm absolutely at a loss. People of all races and classes can be "uneducated" about nonviolence. If people had a problem with the way I was expressing myself, wouldn't a dialogue have been a better way to work things out?
Re: Ecuador Civil Unrest Grows Amid Public Protests
10 Apr 2005
We have a policy of hiding remarks that are clearly classist, racist. etc. and yours--after careful reflection--seemed that way to me. Perhaps that was not your intent, but you said simply "uneducated" not "uneducated about nonviolence", which implied you thought little of people without extensive formal education. You also argued that "these Third World people" need to do X--as if people in the Global South should follow the dictates of activists in the Global North, which seemed racist to me. If you really weren't intending your remarks to come across that way, my apologies, but you should probably be more careful how you phrase things in the future, to avoid such misunderstandings.
Re: Ecuador Civil Unrest Grows Amid Public Protests
11 Apr 2005
There's a pretty strong correlation between living in developed countries and having a basically nonviolent social approach, b/c the working classes here have, through their class power over generations, effectively demanded better publicly available education and a stronger public sphere for uncensored (cough cough) dialogue, both of which let the compelling arguments of nonviolence flourish.

In fact UNeducation (as opposed to traditional or indigenous education) is one of the injustices that's been forced on the Third World by capitalism's uneven-development there. It's no coincidence that a violent paradigm for social change dominates most of the global South: that way, whether there's a "left wing" revolution or a "right wing" revolution, the result is a fully formed state that can be re-inserted into the capitalist world-system.

Sure, it gets complicated, but those of us who have had the privilege of literacy and access to global communication and a thriving civil society shouldn't be afraid to enter into an honest dialogue with our comrades in the South about what kinds of movements are likely to effect lasting revolutionary change. If progressives bite their tongues out of guilt, we will be letting the capitalists be our sole representatives, and the capitalists win in the South not by preventing so-called "revolution," but by ensuring it will take a violent, territorial, patriarchal, productivist, national-chauvinist etc. nature. What I see in the above picture is exactly that--men fighting with men for control of the streets, fences and uniforms that will ultimately be used for expropriating the labor and life force of women, children, animals, indigenous groups, etc. True anarchism entails being able to look at that situation honestly and judge it for what it is, and also being honest about education as a force for real change.
Re: Ecuador Civil Unrest Grows Amid Public Protests
12 Apr 2005
Um so do I ever get my other post restored, or does your decision rest in perpetuity even after I've clarified exactly what I meant?
Re: Ecuador Civil Unrest Grows Amid Public Protests
12 Apr 2005
what'll happen to american witnesses during this new ecuadorian revolution
Re: Ecuador Civil Unrest Grows Amid Public Protests
12 Apr 2005
I'd prefer not to unhide it, because the way you inititally phrased it still sounds really awful. If you want to post something saying essentially the same thing with more context to make what you meant clear, go ahead--though actually your post above seems to do that.